When should you start marketing off-the-plan developments?

Going to market with a retirement living development needs to be done thoughtfully but there are a few guidelines that can help you get it right, writes marketing manager Samantha Erickson.

If marketing were a cake, I could give you a recipe I’d have perfected over the years that would guarantee sure-to-rise deliciousness every single time. Unfortunately, that’s not how marketing works – especially in this industry, where there’s no one-size-fits-all approach (sorry). When you go to market will depend on your business case, financial obligations, construction timeline, product and lot mix. With that said, there are some general rules that can help you finesse your marketing offering – and get the timing right.

Time it carefully

Ideally, start planning at least six months before going to market. That’s your time to develop branding, customer value proposition, collateral development as well as renders/CGIs. It often takes longer than expected, so make sure you have a solid plan in place with your creative partners.

As for your above-the-line marketing activity, as a general rule I recommend aiming to go to market about 12-18 months before construction completion. This allows you enough time to grow a database of quality leads and nurture those relationships – which is essential in the retirement living space. As my colleague Karen Mattingley explains here, it takes six to nine months for a customer to deposit on an apartment.

Focus on retention

Going to market 18 months before construction completion means you need to consider how you are going to hold on to customers, especially for your early depositors.

At Marketability, our priority is both lead generation activity and events, as well as a depositor retention program. Not only does a strong retention strategy significantly reduce churn, it lowers the marketing cost to sell each apartment since we only have to sell them once.

Recognise different audiences

The industry average is to convert 1 in 30 leads to a sale, but at Marketability our average is 1 in 5. An important way to achieve such a high strike rate is to understand that regardless of when you go to market, there are three distinct groups you need to target at different times:

The ‘early adopters’

Who they are: Those who are looking to downsize their home, but upsize their lifestyle.

How they behave: They tend to buy off the plan due to FOMO (in this case, fear of missing out on the best), and usually opt for premium two bedrooms plus study or three bedroom apartments with a desirable aspect. This group is your low hanging fruit when you kick off.

The ‘let’s wait and see’

Who they are: They’re a little less confident in buying off-the-plan so like to wait until they see the display apartment, which is hopefully finished at least mid-way through construction.

How they behave: They require more nurturing (sometimes up to to 9 months) and generally snap up the two bedroom or two bedroom plus study apartments.

The ‘I need to move’

Who they are: This needs-based group buys what is remaining once the village has opened.

How they behave: They usually have a medical or health reason to move, so the one bedroom or one bedroom plus study apartments suit them as there is less to maintain.



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